Nation's top medics, agencies honored at EMS Expo 2012

A number of awards were given out during the opening ceremonies Wednesday in New Orleans

By Sarah M. Smart
EMS1 Editor

EMS World Expo 2012 kicked off in New Orleans Wednesday by recognizing those in the field making outstanding contributions to EMS with the 2012 National EMS Awards of Excellence.

The NAEMT EMT of the Year, Dean Darling, is an EMT-I and the training director for Sauk Prairie Ambulance Association in Sauk City, Wis.

With the agency since 1982, he was nominated by his coworker, Joe Welsch, whose father he once saved while off-duty. He has trained every EMT with his service and has introduced a number of new programs, including the area's first bike medic program and a program to fund and place defibrillators in all ambulances. "Dean is always looking for new ways to move the service forward," Welsch said.

Kenneth Davenport of Lyon County, Ky., EMS was named NAEMT Paramedic of the Year. His director, Adam Lyons, nominated him for helping him adjust as the service's new director.

Davenport actually works for multiple agencies, always willing to assist his coworkers. "His patient care is superb," Lyons said. "He is intrigued by the patient's condition and what is causing their current symptoms or illness. He gets down to the root of the problem and treats patients and their family members with dignity and respect."

NEMSMA Executive of the Year is Tim Hearn, of Fort Smith EMS in Ark. That's because of the turnaround he's overseen as executive director in the past four years. When he took the helm, the service was near bankrupt, valued at less than $500,000.

It also was understaffed, had obsolete equipment and owned no property. "Our citizens deserve to have the very best, and we won't settle until we have it for them," he said.

Friendswood VFD EMS serves the 38,000 residents of Friendswood, Texas, and won the Impact Volunteer EMS Service of the Year award. The service recently entered a research study for lactic acid monitoring and put an excited delirium protocol in place with local police.

EMS Chief Lisa Camp credits community spirit with keeping the service alive since 1972. "All of the medics believe they're neighbors helping neighbors, that's kind of our motto," she said.

The final award at the ceremony, the Dick Ferneau Paid Service of the Year, went to New Orleans EMS. Hurricane Katrina, while tragic, drove a number of changes to prehospital care, marked by innovation and quality.

For example, NOEMS implemented therapeutic hypothermia for cardiac arrest patients and refused to take patients to local hospitals that would not continue it. Also, LSU EM residents use prehospital ultrasound in the field alongside medics. "The main thing people should know," NOEMS Director and Medical Director Jeffrey Elder said, "is that none of this would have happened if not for our people working the streets every day."

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